How low can they go? Crushed Penguins, 6-0

When the Pittsburgh Penguins traveled to New York a few days ago for a pair of games against the Rangers, they must have realized that they had no real hope of passing the Rangers for third place in the league. metropolitan division.

What they probably didn’t realize was that when they got home early Sunday morning, they would be much closer to not making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 17 years than they are for any of the teams above them in the underground.

They left Manhattan with no points – but surely a megadose of humility – to show for their visit after being embarrassed by New York, 6-0, at Madison Square Garden.

Forty-eight hours earlier, New York had defeated them, 4-2, in Game 1 of the two-game series. The Penguins probably didn’t realize at the time that this loss would feel like the good old days to them a few days later.

According to stats extraordinaire Bob Grove, this is the first time the Penguins have lost three straight games in regulation in March under Mike Sullivan’s coaching tenure.

Saturday’s loss, coupled with Florida’s 4-2 win over New Jersey, put the Panthers within one point of the Penguins and New York Islanders, who were tied for the first wild card in the playoffs. Eastern Conference. on the field, awaiting the outcome of New York’s game at San Jose.

The Penguins played without their No. 2 and 3 right-backs, Jeff Petry and Jan Rutta.

Petry was injured on Thursday when Rangers winger Tyler Motte elbowed him in the face. The nature of Rutta’s injury or illness is not known.

The Pittsburgh Penguins actually had a pretty solid first period, as evidenced by their 15-12 shooting advantage, but still faced a 2-0 deficit in the end.

Rangers keeper Igor Shesterkin made a good save on Josh Archibald, who was slotted into the slot by Jeff Carter about three minutes into the game, and Mika Zibanejad put New York in front about two minutes later.

He threw a backhand between Tristan Jarry’s legs from the inside edge of the right circle, the second straight game he opened the scoring against the Penguins.

The Penguins later killed a minor for having too many men on the ice at 6:01, but weren’t so lucky after Evgeni Malkin was sent off for boarding New York defenseman Braden Schneider at 6:56 p.m.

Artemi Panarin made it 2-0 with 10.3 seconds left before intermission, beating Jarry to cap a streak that began with a failed clearance attempt by Brian Dumoulin.

It was New York’s first power-play goal in nine tries against the Penguins this season.

Panarin’s goal seemed to completely deflate the Penguins, as when they returned from the locker room after intermission their usually solid play in the first 20 minutes did not accompany them.

Rangers stifled the game early in the second, when Vladimir Tarasenko fired a slapshot past Jarry from inside the right circle at 3:54 to cap a 3-on-1 break.

The Penguins had their first extra-man chance in more than four periods against the Rangers when Vincent Trocheck was penalized for roughing up Drew O’Connor at 4:35, but they failed to generate a shot, without talk about significant pressure.

Eight seconds after Trocheck left the box, Chris Kreider headed a pass from Patrick Kane behind Jarry to put New York ahead, 4-0.

It was Kreider’s sixth goal in four games against the Penguins this season.

This prompted Sullivan to replace Jarry with Casey DeSmith, likely in an effort to change the momentum of the game.

If so, it didn’t work.

Less than two minutes into the game, DeSmith became the latest Penguin to be shot in the head by Jacob Trouba, although it’s not the kind he’s usually associated with.

Trouba tossed the puck towards the net from low in the right circle, and watch it corer off the left side of DeSmith’s mask and drop into the net.

Panarin was left alone on the left side of the crease at 16:38 and returned a shot to put New York in place by half a dozen.

It was the second time in three games that the Penguins allowed four goals in one period. Montreal did it in the first period of their 6-4 win at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will have a day off scheduled for Sunday and face Ottawa Monday at 7:08 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena before heading west for games against Colorado on Wednesday and Dallas on Thursday.

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